14 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life According to Sex Therapists
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For a deeper connection, more pleasure, or to try something new—follow these expert tips to spice up your sex life.
How to spice up your sex life
Whether you’re tired of doing the same old thing in the bedroom, want to take your intimacy to the next level, make sex more pleasurable, reignite your sex life, strengthen your relationship, or just try something fun and new, there are lots of reasons to consider spicing up your sex life.
“Over time, in relationships, partners can become too familiar,” says Kate Balestrieri, licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy.
“Novelty in the bedroom is one way couples can reintroduce themselves to each other, over and over again. Learning new things about ourselves and our partners keeps us curious, engaged, and alive with relational vitality.”
Exploring new dimensions of sexual play together can be a form of adventure and can introduce elements of novelty, creativity, and intensity, she says. But that doesn’t mean you have to install a sex swing or drop a few grand on a couples cruise (although those are fun too!)
(Get educated about sex with these 50 interesting sex facts you probably don’t know.)
Start by setting yourself up for good sex
Despite what the movies may show, really great sex generally isn’t a surprising, spontaneous act and a little planning can go a long way in creating a positive, fulfilling, and engaging sexual experience, says Rachel Zar, certified sex expert at Spark Chicago Therapy and the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine at Northwestern University.
This is especially true if you struggle with your libido or if you’re in a long-term relationship.
(These are the 14 sex problems you should take seriously.)
There are four things you should do before jumping into bed:
Mindfulness is touted as a cure for everything from depression to overeating and that’s because your brain is such a powerful tool.
Learning to be mindful about your body, particularly in relation to sex, can help you be more interested in doing it, more involved when it happens, and experience more pleasure, says Zar. Distracted sex is not good sex.
“This is all about getting out of your partner’s mindset or your to-do list or your kids’ stuff and, instead, learning to focus on what’s happening inside you,” says Zar.
There are sensual or erotic guided meditations but even practicing regular mindfulness can be helpful during sex.
Plan for all your senses
You have five senses but often touch and sight get all the attention in the bedroom. The more senses you can incorporate the better the sex will be, says Zar.
Think about ways to bring in new scents, tastes, and things to listen to. This could mean things like finding a scented candle or cologne that turns you on, making a sexy playlist or listening to an erotic podcast, or discovering which foods that you personally associate with sex.
Do an emotional check-in
Pent-up negative feelings can ruin sex before it even starts. Sex should be an addition to a healthy relationship, not used in lieu of one.
“Sometimes sex feels stale because you’re phoning it in,” says Balestrieri.
“Unprocessed feelings, fears, or other demands on the relationship can sometimes be a deterrent to sex. Feeling resentful, anxious, angry, obligated, or unsafe (emotionally or otherwise) can make sex an arduous task. Check in with yourself and your partner to connect before you get to the bedroom.”
Don’t just ignore the feelings and hope they go away as this can hurt all aspects of your relationship. If this conversation feels too fraught or leads to fights, a sex or relationship therapist can help you navigate it.
(Here are some things that happen to your body when you stop having sex.)
Putting sex on the calendar may seem like the antithesis of sexy but knowing that you are going to get lucky allows you to prepare and build anticipation for it.
This is particularly useful for people who may struggle with wanting to want sex or who need to take medication beforehand or for busy couples who have a hard time finding time to get busy with each other.
“Sometimes, sex is the first thing taken off the table when stress or obligations stack up. It’s understandable, however, when couples who want sex do not prioritize it, they can find themselves in a platonic rut,” says Balestrieri. “Making room for sex, mentally and in your schedules, may be the ‘spice’ you’ve been looking for.”
Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
Tips for how to spice up your sex life
Once you are mentally and physically prepared, sex can be a lot more fun.
Here are some tips from our experts for taking your sex life to the next level. (In the meantime, make sure you aren’t falling for any of these popular sex myths.)
Do a sexy activity (that isn’t sex)
“Sex-adjacent activities” are any sexy activity that helps you to relax and have fun together as a couple but without the pressure of having sex right that minute, says Zar. They often lead into sex but the emphasis is on couple bonding and emotional intimacy.
These activities are anything you enjoy doing together but could include things like giving massages, watching a steamy show, or taking a shower together.
Come up with your own secret language
Whether your partner is in the next room or the next country, texting is a great way to keep the sexy conversation going. However, many people aren’t comfortable sending graphic texts or have privacy concerns.
One way around this is to create a sexy language all your own, says Zar.
Go beyond eggplants and peaches: Take any random emoji and assign it a special meaning that only the two of you will understand. That way, if your boss accidentally sees a string of airplanes and flowers, they’ll just think you’re really into travel.
Sign up for a sex box subscription
There are subscription services for everything these days, from vegan meals to science kits, so of course, there are boxes to boost your sex life.
“Adult subscription services are all the rave, as they give couples the opportunity to sample different accessories and activities and have a new theme each month,” says Balestrieri.
One she recommends is The Play Box because it focuses on improving both the physical side and the communication side of sex.
Subtract a sense
Blindfolds are popular sex toys because when you take away the sense you rely most upon—your sight—it heightens your perception of all the other senses, especially touch, says Zar. But don’t stop there. Try experimenting with noise-canceling headphones to remove the auditory sense or light bondage to limit your hands from touching.
(Make sure you know the 8 medical reasons for your low sex drive.)
Have sex on a swing
Every couple has their tried-and-true methods but even if they work they can get stale, says Balestrieri. Try changing just one thing: A new sex position, a new location, a new room, a different time of day, or a new toy.
Even if it ends up not being something you want to do again, at least now you have a sexy adventure to talk (and maybe laugh) about together.
Be hot and cold
Temperature is a big part of your touch sense and playing around with it can enhance sensations, says Zar.
Try using ice cubes or melted candle wax, or alternate the two, on your partner’s body. You can purchase special candles designed just for sex play that melt at a lower temperature so you don’t risk burns.
Go toy shopping together
There are so many sex toys beyond vibrators but it can be intimidating. Going shopping together allows you to pick out some new things to try and build anticipation with your partner.
Whether you go to a brick-and-mortar store or visit an online shop, feel free to ask lots of questions. The employees are usually very knowledgeable and helpful.
Start with these affordable sex toys worth trying.
Use a couples toy
You can use most sex toys alone or with a partner but there are many toys on the market that are designed for the purpose of using them with a partner, adding to the bonding experience, says Balestrieri.
For instance, a remote-controlled vibrator or a tandem vibrating ring allows you to work together in a new way.
Go beyond whipped cream
Food is a popular item in sex but many people limit it to chocolate and whipped cream. Think out of the box about other foods you may enjoy eating together as a precursor to sex or during sex, says Zar.
“Aphrodisiac” foods are very personal. For instance, if you had a really great burger before having amazing sex and that’s part of your memory of the experience, then burgers may be an aphrodisiac food for you. If you’re worried about making a mess, put down towels or take that part into the tub.
(Beware of the 8 foods that kill your sex drive.)
Play an erotic game
“Adult games take the fuss out of getting creative,” says Balistrieri. “They are designed to get your creative and sexual juices flowing.”
She recommends Lovehoney’s Oh! 52 Weeks of Role Play, a game that allows you to explore a new role-playing scenario each week.
Read or listen to a sexy script
An alternative to watching porn together is to listen to an erotic story, read one aloud to each other, or read a sexy script together, says Zar.
Involving your hearing can change things up and allows you to focus your sight more intently on your partner. This is good for people who enjoy talking dirty but don’t know what to say in the moment.
Use a vibrator other places
Vibrators are designed to stimulate the genitals but they can be used anywhere on your body and may help you discover new erogenous zones on yourself or your partner, says Zar. (To become a better lover, avoid these 14 mistakes everyone makes in bed.)
People are often ashamed of or scared to share their sexual fantasies but doing so in a safe way with your partner can be incredibly intimate and exciting.
“Recognize that some fantasies aren’t meant to be acted out; you get to decide how you want to explore it together, whether that’s through talking, role playing, or something more,” says Zar.
“Sharing fantasies and playing with roles can give you a chance to play with power dynamics, shame, and worth, as well as myriad other intoxicating roles,” says Balestrieri.
Have sex, even if it’s not great
Too many couples fall into the trap of thinking that every sexual encounter has to be mind-blowing but that’s a lot of pressure.
“Sex is like a muscle, the more you do it, the stronger it gets. So even if it’s not the best sex you’ve ever had, it can help set you up for a better time next time,” says Zar.
“And don’t make a big deal out of a dry spell, that adds unnecessary pressure. Just get back into it.”
For more, try these 20 tips to improve your sex life in one day.
- Kate Balestrieri, PhD, licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, certified sex addiction therapist, PACT therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy, in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago
- Rachel Zar, LMFT, certified sex therapist, relationship and sex therapist at Spark Chicago Therapy and the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine at Northwestern University